Sunday, September 21, 2008

Who Stole My Church?

I read 30-40+ books every year. Sometimes I'll give a strong recommendation; other times a "don't bother" recommendation. And then there are times I state that every member ought to head down to Lifeway or to the Amazon website and make a purchase. That's the thrust of my recommendation for Gordon MacDonald's Who Stole My Church?
In light of the major transitions we have gone through this year, I wish every single member of our church would take the time to read this one. I wish I had read it twelve months ago. My thanks to Pastor Steve Little for starting the spark to get the message of this book out to the church family.
Who Stole My Church? is a fictional story about a church trying to address all the changes going on in the world and how those changes affect how we do church. The subtitle is What to Do When the Church You Love Tries to Enter the 21st Century. During a series of discovery-type meetings led by the pastor of this New England church, participants raise questions about whatever happened to singing from the hymn book, Sunday night services, revivals...and the list goes on and on. Finally, during this initial meeting one of the participants remarks, "I'd like to know who stole my church?" That's the sentiment of many church members all across America (Chapin included).
The book helped me understand the hearts of people and why change is so difficult. It also gave me hope that transitioning a church to reach emerging generations is indeed possible. It also convinced me how important it is to bring people to the table to listen and to talk.
Yes, the book is a made-up story. And the way things pan out in the New England church may seem like storyland material. But every long-time member of any church, any teenager, any pastor, or any newer member can find himself/herself in the story. The parable is that accurate and powerful.
So, go NOW and get the book and start reading. Many of our members have read the book. It could be you could borrow one. But beware, if read with an open mind, God might decide to mess with you a little. That's what makes it a great book. What are you waiting on? Go get a copy.

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